The internet is wrong: opinions edition™

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    shaving is boring Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    hey wiki you're so fine
    Video game history was re-written in the early 2000s, because [citation needed] doesn't work if you can't cite anything. As such, thanks in part to the "AVGN generation", there is an imaginary list of games the internet thinks are "bad", alongside a misconception that they've always been bad. Because I've spent too much time collating contemporary video game opinions, I can now present to you, "Bad Sega games now that weren't bad then":

    Disclaimer: Sega Retro's methods of determining "good" and "bad" are incredibly vague because quantifing opinions is kinda unreliable and dumb. Opinions have also changed as society has changed, so work it out, it's a bit of fun etc.

    Shaq Fu

    There was a group that actively encouraged people to destroy copies of Shaq Fu "because it was bad". We're fine with jumping plumbers and speedy blue hedgehogs, but Shaquille O'Neal kicking a cyborg? Absurd! Burn it.

    On the internet, every fighting game that isn't derived from Street Fighter II is the worst thing ever, but in 1994, where Capcom cabinets weren't necessarily abundant and emulation was barely a thing, people were generally a lot more forgiving. Opinions on Shaq Fu of the time range from "indifference" to "okay" - it was built before fighting gameplay standards were understood, and you still expected a level of compromise the on consoles, even after games were starting to see decent transitions from the arcade.

    Jury's out on the SNES and Game Gear versions, but personally I think Shaq Fu looks pretty good the Mega Drive (even if doesn't always play well), and there seems to have been some agreement back in the day (perhaps no surprise - it's a Delphine Software production). Also of note - the audio is ear-piercingly bad on older emulators, but not on official hardware - that's going to sway some opinions in the early 2000s. But even then, I'm not convinced the game was ever bad enough to set on fire.

    The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants

    Bart's Nightmare and Virtual Bart don't fare well, but reviews for Bart vs. the Space Mutants were good in 1991/1992 (as they were with Bart vs. the World). Despite the cryptic nature of play and the wonky platforming, it was seen as a fun tie-in, although given it pre-dates the really good seasons of The Simpsons, the disconnect with the show didn't factor much into the equation. It fares even better on the 8-bit machines - nothing legendary, but enough to be broadly happy with your purchase. You might say they didn't have a cow.

    Not quite sure where the licensed tie-ins stigma is these days - Acclaim made it a problem in the 1990s and THQ followed their legacy in the 2000s, but I'm not sure how recognised it was in 1991. I suspect the realisation that most of these games weren't that great came later, perhaps after things like Disney's Aladdin. I don't know - feels like the inherent thrill of being able to play as a cartoon character might have upped the scores a bit.


    aka "Shit-Fighter", this is dismissed as being a not-so-great predecessor to Mortal Kombat. Probably because it is.

    But opinions were more positive in 1990/1991 thanks to its "realistic" graphics. US magazine GamePro gave the Mega Drive port full marks (that's more than Sonic the Hedgehog, for those playing at home) and others were equally full of praise - a view that only began to change towards the end of 1992 when better examples turned up. Today the game's a joke, but before standards were invented, it did very well for Atari. Might have even been the best arcade fighting game out there for the six months between it and Street Fighter II.

    It seems to have been praise (1991), acceptance (1992) and disdain (1993) - there are only a few games that fall spectacularly from grace and this is one of them.

    Doom (32X)

    Doom on the 32X is likely the highest-rated 32X game, currently averaging an aggregate score on Sega Retro of about 88%. Thought it was Chaotix shifting 32X systems? Nope - it was Doom. All ten units.

    While 32X Doom is a huge cutback on the DOS version, it's worth remembering... PCs were expensive in the 90s, and only the top tier machines were going to be hitting the dizzying heights of 320x200 at 35FPS. The 32X experience is very similar to what the average PC user would have seen in November 1994, albeit one that costs but a fraction of the price to get running and doesn't stop Dad from getting his spreadsheets done.

    No doubt it has some awful interpretations of the original soundtrack, but think about it - not all PCs had sound cards, and a Sound Blaster would have cost more than the 32X cartridge at the time. The Jaguar port, released in the same month, doesn't have music, and by the time ports arrived that did, we're talking September (SNES) and November (PlayStation) 1995, 10-12 months later. And I don't need to tell you how quickly technology was progressing during this period - the 32X system as a whole was pretty much dead by then.

    So you paid less, you got less. Although you also got more.

    Batman Forever (Mega Drive)

    The one that looks and plays like Mortal Kombat, but is a side-scroller, and is terrible. Well not so much in 1995, because reviews are surprisingly positive for this version of Batman Forever. There was clearly a lot of "graphics before gameplay" going on around this time, though it was a special type of "realistic" graphics that got you the extra marks. Case in point, The Adventures of Batman & Robin (Mega Drive) regularly scored lower and that has all-sorts going on.

    Of course you can't rule out Acclaim paying magazines to say nice things, but for currently unexplained reasons, this is one of the highest-rated Batman games of the era.

    Other points of note:
    - 3D helps. All those 2D Saturn shooters we're meant to rave about? Nobody cared in the mid-90s because the genre was seen as old hat. In fact any 2D graphics on the Saturn and PlayStation would lose you marks most of the time, because 2D is a last generation thing.

    - Likewise old games are old. The 32X has some great ports of Space Harrier and After Burner II, but they were panned on release because the press were only interested in new games. A running theme for the 1990s.

    - Big NES franchises... weren't big on the Mega Drive. The likes of Castlevania, Contra and Mega Man scored reasonably well, but we're talking 75-80% versus Earthworm Jim's 90%. So when I first arrived on the internet back in 2002/2003 and hadn't heard of any of these games, that could be why.

    - Reponse to "foreign" sports is mixed. There was a theory that the US marked down football, rugby and cricket while Europe marked down American football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball, but I'm not really seeing it. In the early days, the FIFAs, NFLs, NBAs and NHLs were just as likely to be praised both sides of the Atlantic, however by 1995/1996, when EA shifted more towards realism, countries began favouring their own sports and became... disinterested about the rest. So it's less "negativity" as it is "apathy" - the Dreamcast's NFL 2K sold big in the US, but while it was equally praised in the UK... nobody here bought it, because it's NFL.

    - No clear winners for the Mega Drive/Super NES console war when it comes to third-party software quality. Sometimes games are rated higher on the Mega Drive, other times the SNES - it's an extremely close race, unlike the Saturn and PlayStation, where most of the time the PS1 port fared better.

    - On the whole, publications were more positive than negative, especially in regions such as the US and France. One one hand, this skews our scores because 70% can sometimes mean "poor", but it also might suggest that the industry as a whole was a really exciting prospect for some publications. That standards and expectations were lower, and that people found fun in the sub-standard. That is to say, direct comparisons to Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes don't work - don't get hung up on the numbers.

    - (Mega Drive) Dark Castle and Action 52 have always been hated.
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  2. Ashura96


    Pit Fighter has always felt like a clunky game to me, but sure it predates SF2 and I know the game has always had its fair share of fans. I think what turned the tables unfavorably is the actual awful SNES port of the game.
  3. Vangar


    I played Bart vs. the Space Mutants as a kid myself. Rented it from the video store. My opinion on it then was that it made no sense. I couldn't get past the first area, let alone the first level. In my opinion the game is far too hard for the target audience, and boring. Played it again as an adult and wasn't really interested. I don't know why magazines would give this game a good review other than 'simpsons'. Tbh, this game has always been a stinker in my books.

    Batman forever a friend down the road had it, and we played it a bit. It was okay. It took a long time to realize we needed a special controller (Honeybee 6 button) to progress. For some reason the 6 button official sega controller didn't work. Perhaps the xyz buttons were broken. Haven't played it since, but from memory was pretty average.

    32x doom is quite good, though the lack of levels is a bit of a downside. Wouldn't call it bad. Gets good framerates, better than saturn in most places.

    Shaq fu i've only owned as an adult, The sprites are pretty nice. Wouldn't call it a bad game either.
  4. MH MD

    MH MD


    New episode just in time for this thread, ecco also bad now apparently -actually don't know if people here like it or not but the timing is funny nonetheless, cause its the first sega game he reviewed in a while-
  5. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    shaving is boring Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    hey wiki you're so fine
    I was in two minds about posting that myself - Ecco was universally praised at launch. It's even a pub (okay that's a lie - it's two pubs).

    I'm not sure if it was ever considered good or bad when I was young - lots of people had it, but... nobody played it. Even now I've never emulated it past the first stage.
  6. Xilla


    Super! Smashing! Member
    To be honest I never really "got" Ecco. Rented it back in the day but didn't really play it for more than half an hour. Opinion hasn't really changed nearly 30 years later either.
  7. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    I tried playing Ecco a few years back, but ended up dropping it after a few levels, as it just wasn't fun (for me anyway...). The objectives and solutions were often too obtuse and made the gameplay come off as too slow-paced. Even when I solved them, it didn't feel particularly rewarding... It was more like I was finally done with a tedious job.

    I was under the impression that most Sega fans liked it and I was in the minority, though.
  8. Mecha Sally

    Mecha Sally

    I never found Ecco to be really bad, per se, but it is frustrating as all hell. Definitely one of those games you have to play multiple times to memorize the best routes (or use save states, ha). I actually think it might have been ahead of its time, too; something about its presentation makes me think of indie games like Ori and the Blind Forest or Seasons After Fall, where you're given only bits and pieces of what the story is and what to do through minimal amounts of text.

    It's a shame the Nerd didn't use the passwords to skip ahead; would have liked to see his reaction to the alien spaceship levels. Like this game was pretty surreal to begin with but then you learn there's aliens involved and it's just bizarre as shit.
  9. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    I've beaten Ecco 1 three times.

    It's okay. It has an air of mystery and intrigue right off the bat before stuff gets batshit crazy though. Open Ocean (Mega Drive) is the best song in the game and FUCK TRILOBITE POND.
  10. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    I think this is another thing related to how opinions differed in the 90s era. Due to the prevalence of people renting games instead of buying them (hello early 90s recession), games publishers usually made the first few levels really difficult, so that you were more likely to fail at seeing everything the game has to offer during the short rental period, thus leading to more game sales. I'm not sure this theory ever held up though but I think Ecco and Lion King are prime examples of this.
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  11. Gestalt


    Sphinx in Chains Member
    I believe the biggest difference between Ecco the Dolphin and actual bad games is that it doesn't have a timer, but passwords for each level.
  12. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    You know, like 95% of comments on that AVGN video are about how much people loved Ecco.
  13. Level Zone Act

    Level Zone Act

    In August there was an IndieGamerChick thread on Twitter about the NES version, in which designer/programmer Garry Kitchen replied with some comments on its development.

    This Twitter search should pick up his replies: since:2020-08-21&src=typed_query

    He didn't say much about its reception, apart from this:
    And on Bart vs the World: "What was the dev time for Bart v the World compared to Space Mutants?"
    "Was James L Brooks and Matt Groening as involved or were they super busy with their millions from the show being successful by that point?"
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  14. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Well, Ecco is my second reason after Sonic to have a Mega Drive and a Dreamcast (I own cartridge versions of the first two games and the one on DC). I owned the first one on the Master System too, which I also liked a lot and allowed me to see the ending, because I've never been able to beat the vortex queen in the main version. The second game is far better and more forgiving; I've beaten it in hard mode. These games are really beautiful and go from puzzle games to horror games easily, the second one being also a bit like a superhero game. I get why there's people who don't like this kind of gameplay, and it was really weird to make them look as they were for kids when they're so hard and adult in their design and concepts, but I think I was already 14 when I played them for the first time, so I didn't had that age issue.
  15. Swifthom


    A Friend Remembers... Member
    I started Ecco 1 so many times, and died so many times.
    But with patience it is playable and I did once play it to completion. But... that almost wasnt the point. Back in the day the game was beautiful. I would turn it on just to replay that first level again and again, bask in the joy of complete freedom of movement under the water, and pick off the swimming fish you could eat one by one. I got some passwords off a gaming magazine for some later levels and did the areas around the killer whale and the asterite, giving me hints of what I would find if I ever played the game properly. It was intruiging, it held so much potential out of reach and it made me want to play it.

    I'd already seen the AVG video and laughed at it, but its a sad laugh because the game WAS magnificent for its time and though all the things he says are true the game was excellent despite all of them. Its just a point where tastes could have gone a different way.... but they didn't.

    All I can say is DO NOT treat it like a platformer / adventure game.
    Anecdotally everyone I know who liked Ecco went on to like Myst when it came out a year later :p
  16. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

    つづく Oldbie
    I remember Batman Forever being moderately popular. Can't say that about the others, though in Doom's case because nobody bought a 32X.
  17. Ayu Tsukimiya

    Ayu Tsukimiya

    UGUU~ Member
    History is written by the winners, etc.
  18. Xilla


    Super! Smashing! Member
    James has a team do all the work for him these days anyway due to family commitments, maybe he has a different personal opinion of some of more recent games he's "reviewed", if he even has an opinion at all.

    Must admit though, growing up with Sega consoles and having very little nostalgia for the NES, a lot of the games he reviewed back in the early days of his channel were my own first exposure to them, and I have gave some of them a go myself and thought "Hey, that wasn't too bad".

    Plus I never heard anyone ever pronounce "N.E.S" until him, it's always been Nez to me!
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020